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Historic Hilltop Bean Dinner
Hilltop businessmen meets on June 2, 1931 to discuss that year’s picnic at Buckeye Lake.
For more than 25 years, the Historic Hilltop Bean Dinner has appeared at Westgate Park and the tradition continues June 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Each year around 50 cases of beans, 20 cases of cornbread, and 2,000 hot dogs are consumed by the Hilltop community who wish to spend a summer day with family and catch up with friends.
Gathering together with friends every summer has been a tradition kept alive since the beginning of bean dinners.
Made popular by veterans of the Civil War, bean dinners traveled to southern Ohio by way of Kentucky and West Virginia.
In the 1930s the Hilltop Business Association (HBA) decided to host bean dinners at Westgate Park as a way to show appreciation to their community as a three day event.
Prior to this, the HBA hosted annual picnics at Buckeye Lake.
The early bean dinners were attractive to residents who could browse merchant booths, receive giveaways, and try for prizes. Over the years the event grew, adding more attractions and enticing larger crowds – having turn outs as high as 30,000 visitors.
According to Bean Dinner Chairman Jerry Freeman, the HBA continually evaluates their event each year – and this year aim to attract around 20,000 guests with all the activities they have planned.
Returning to the Historic Hilltop Bean Dinner this year are 20 booths, featuring local vendors and merchants. Additionally, arts and crafts tents will be erected around the pond area. Live musical performances will also be held throughout the day, with bands such as “Mojo Theory.”
“Cars in the Park” will return, showcasing 200 vehicles, all proceeds benefiting the Special Wish Foundation.
The Westgate Athletic Association is having their baseball playoffs in conjunction with the bean dinner, as around a dozen teams will play to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.
In 2010, the Historic Hilltop Bean Dinner raised $9,880 after expenses and gifts in kind – all going back into the community through the services of the HBA.
According to Freeman, the bean dinner not only brings the community together, but helps raise money to better the Hilltop.
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